Serbia has enormous potential for alternative tourism investments
26. November 2011. | 06:58 07:21
Foreign currency income from tourism over the first nine months this year totaled USD 750 million, while it saw a 28 percent five-year growth, he said. Of the 262 hotels in Serbia, 70 new ones have been opened over the last five years.Hotel capacity, rural tourism,spa tourism and bicycle tourism should become a priority for investment in Serbia.
Minister of Economy and Regional Development Nebojsa Ciric stated that tourism is an economic branch with immense investment potential, which has been exploited only partly.
Speaking at the first Tourism Investment Forum at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Ciric recalled that over the past four years, the state invested the most in infrastructure and mountain resorts.
A lot is yet to be done in the period ahead, the Minister observed, adding that Serbia has enormous potential for spa tourism and that spa and wellness centres should be developed.
Hotel capacity and bicycle tourism should be developed, but we must also prepare for the arrival of private investors, as so far only the state invested in this sector, he said.
Ciric underlined that this year Serbia will be a regional leader in terms of investments, specifying that €1.1 billion has been invested in Serbia in the first eight months of 2011, not counting the investment of Belgium’s Delhaize in Delta Maxi and Fiat’s investment in Zastava.
With these two investments we can expect the annual inflow figure to reach €3.3 billion, he added.
Despite the economic crisis, Serbia managed to maintain macroeconomic stability, the Minister observed, adding that GDP growth rate has been corrected to 2%, while this year’s budget deficit will stand at 4.8% of GDP.
He recalled that export is on the rise and has exceeded import, adding that Serbia’s credit rating has improved, although the government will have to continue with savings measures in 2012.
State Secretary for Tourism at the Serbian Ministry of Economy and Regional Development Goran Petkovic opened late Thursday the First Serbian Investment Tourism Forum, an event aimed at establishing better links between those who offer projects and those seeking investment opportunities in Serbia.
During the opening ceremony of the forum, taking place in Belgrade on November 24-26, Petkovic said that the two-day event would be a chance to present tourism investment potentials of Serbia, be they the already realized projects or those still at the level of ideas.
Noting the growing number of foreign tourists visiting the country, he pointed to the lack of accommodation facilities and added that time had come to increase investment in tourism and expand the offer.
Over the first nine months of this year, Petkovic said, the total number of tourists increased by five percent, while the number of foreign tourist arrivals increased by 13 percent. Over the last five years, the total number of foreign tourists visiting Serbia has increased by 45 percent, he added.
Foreign currency income from tourism over the first nine months this year totaled USD 750 million, while it saw a 28 percent five-year growth, he said. Of the 262 hotels in Serbia, 70 new ones have been opened over the last five years, Petkovic said, stressing that this was an increase by 27 percent.
He said that the First Serbian Investment Tourism Forum had undergone a several-year preparation through the process of adopting relevant laws and regulations, improving tourism infrastructure and representing Serbian tourism abroad. He noted that one of the reasons to organize the event was a permanent increase in the number of foreign tourists to the country.
Head of the UN missions in Serbia William Infante said that Serbia had traditional and cultural values that could enrich the country's tourism offer and contribute to the development of the industry, adding that the opportunity should be used to the fullest extent possible.
The speakers particularly highlighted the importance of rural tourism, saying that it should become a priority for investment in Serbia.
The event is organized by the National Corporation for Tourism Development in Serbia and the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDGF) funded program "Sustainable Tourism for Rural Development," jointly implemented by five UN agencies (FAO, UNDP, UNEP, UNICEF and UNESTO), with the support of the Serbian government and the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development.
The organizers said the forum's panels, starting on Friday, would host over 170 participants.